How to do a Yearly Review

Apparently I got lots of thoughts on how to properly do a Yearly Review, which means you get to get those thoughts. You’re welcome. Here’s the TL;DR:

  1. Diary/calendar your days for a year
  2. Figure out why doing this matters
  3. Use the process below to exhaustively craft the questions you want to answer
  4. Set aside time to answer them
  5. Load the past year onto the mind
  6. Answer the questions
  7. ????????
  8. Profit!

First things first:  you’d have to be a god to load a full year into your mind. You need to have kept a diary or calendar for the past year. If you haven’t done this for the past year there’s not that much I can help with — try again next year.

Ok, the basics: why do a yearly review at all? Well, there’s a few reasons. One is that taking stock ensures that your life is not a continuing in media res adventure. You get a higher level of abstraction and thus a higher level of self understanding. You’ll see patterns you wouldn’t see without this work, you’ll set your understanding of what happened and where you are and how you got here in order, and you’ll be atop your own life, and better positioned to take the next year by the balls.

So how to do it? It’s always about answering questions, and for good reason: the benefit of the yearly review is that you’re now in a position to answer questions you could not answer before and which answering is productive. That is what you’re taking advantage of during a yearly review.

Whence the questions? Good news: you can generate them for yourself, and you’re in better position that anyone to do so. Just jot some things down you’d like to have the answer to and which you think you can have the answer to. Then write down with the intention to write down the truth the following: ‘The questions below are exhaustively the questions I couldn’t before but can now answer and which having answers to would be the most useful.” (Or your own equivalent of that.)

As you write it down notice how it feels. If it feels right and truthful, you’re done with question-writing. Else, see what is missing and write that question down.

Iterate the process until you have all the questions down. Feel free to roam the web for inspiration after you wrote your own. (I’ll add my list below, which will certainly be stolen and monetised by content farm websites.)

Once they’re written, half the work is done. Next part is answering. First, review your past year via the diary and calendar to load it onto the mind. Then answer the questions with the intention to tell the truth. I type the questions out, block time at the library in a sunny day, print them out and answer them using pen and paper and free-writing and copious amounts of focusing but this is up to you really.

Also the ‘?????’ up was unfair. What is happening is that with your mind will re-factor to account for this knowledge leading to more nuanced, thoughtful, comprehensive action.
It will be much easier to set actual goals/resolution following this, for example.

Hope that’s helpful.

Have a good year!

P.S. As promised my personal list of questions:

Where was I over the past past year?

In what did I spend my time?

With whom did I spend my time?

Three words to describe the past year: what would they be?

What is the favorite I place visited?

If the past year were a book, what genre would it be?

What change(s) had the most positive impact in my life?

What change(s) had the most negative impact in my life?

What one-shot things were best?

What one-shot things were worst?

What on-going things were best?

What on-going things were worst?

Who gave me energy?

Who took away my energy?

What gave me energy?

What took away my energy?

What made me feel good?

What made me feel bad?

Who made me feel good?

Who made me feel bad?

Who most impacted life, and how?

What did I learn that most impacted life?

What did I most enjoy learning?

What was the absolute best?

What was the absolute worst?

What did I like most?

What did I dislike most?

What were the best moments this year?

What were the worst moments this year?

What were the best things this year?

What were the worst things this year?

What had the most impact?

What goals was I ostensibly gunning for?

What goals was I de facto going for?

What did I achieve?

Where did I fail?

Who mattered?

In which sense did they matter?

What would I want to keep for next year?

What would I want more of for next year?

What would I want less for next year?

What would I want to do away with for next year?

What are my avenues of progress?

What do I want to achieve?

What was most surprising?

What am I most grateful for?

What were the most fun times I had?

What advice would I give myself for the coming year?

What was the biggest break-through?

What was the biggest change?

What did you think most about?

What did I most enjoy thinking about?

What did I most enjoy doing?

What did I most enjoy working on?

What advice would you give your early 2017 self if you could?

What would I have done differently?

What was my most frequent mental state?

How did my mental state vary over time?

Which major goals did I lay the foundations for?

What experience would I love to do all over again?

How did my overall look on life evolve?

How did my overall understanding of life/Being evolve?

What was the biggest problem solved?

What was the funniest moment?

What was the best purchase?

If I could one thing differently, what would it be — and why?

What do you deserve a pat in the back for?

What things made me lose track of time?

What else?!?